It’s high time we address the eccentricities of B2B product management. Previously, we’ve dealt with generalities, and only alluded to the fact that B2B in this case can bring about different concerns. Well, we’ve demonstrated the differences in thinking that B2B can call for, in other fields, but exactly how does it change in product management? What different concerns should we consider?
Well, the easiest way to provide insight into B2B product management is to go over the differences in thinking, and explain why and how to handle them, frankly. Many of you are likely very familiar with the B2B game in general, so I’ll spare the explanation of the direct differences between B2B and B2C over all, and cut right to the specific differences in this field.
#1 – Accounting for Millions or More
In most product management situations, success of a product and commerce framework is gaged in the hundreds or thousands, at which point you can consider yourself an established brand in the market you’re targeting.
This isn’t the case with B2B, where you must adjust your metrics and your goals to target millions or more, before you can consider success goals reached. So, the first thing to consider is reducing the per unit value of any given metric when in a B2B environment.
#2 – Account for a Direct Customer
In B2C, there are several layers to a buyer, such as your technical buyer (the customer paying), and the end user. This is the result of personal situations where gifts or the head of a household etc. purchases goods for use of others besides solely themselves. This means that the end user of a product may not need to be accounted for in presentation and store front design.
In B2B, there is almost always a direct, singular entity as a buyer, the company using the product as a collective entity. As a result, your store front must reflect directly your end user demographic, and your customer success (service and support) around this product must be geared to deal with a very informed and directly affected entity when this arises.
#3 – Shorter Cycles
As someone experienced in product management, or at least educated in the field, your view of various cycles such as launch, product lifecycle and customer experience lifecycle are going to follow the logic of B2C initially, as the sciences behind these were B2C originally, before B2B became a refined offshoot.
So, going into B2B, you must expect shorter cycles, as a business has less time to research, is less swayed by marketing finesse, and will likely have a tighter loyalty curve in the event they return. So, you must shift all of your time-sensitive metrics for managing experience and lifecycles to a narrower window (and so, your fiscal time units must narrow as well), because businesses move faster than individual customers!
#4 – Greater Financial Concerns
While an individual who is smart knows to weigh their pocket book in decisions, this is intensely magnified in B2B, because a company will have their wallet on their mind every second. That’s just the nature of business, naturally.
So, the old problem in product management of users being used to some amount of free service or products, or extended free trials is greatly magnified in B2B. So, consider more heavily offering limited feature products and services here, with more amenities at no additional costs than you would in B2C. You must alter your budget priority a bit, to allow these amenities and extras to be viable.
So, B2B product management does have its share of unique concerns, mostly when it comes to dealing with a shift in metric scope and how direct your relation to your end demographic will be. It also requires a bit more of a giving relationship than B2C, so being a scrooge with extras and accommodations is quite unwise.